A report published today by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills, says that progress has been made at Milton Keynes Council in relation to safeguarding and children in care but there is more to do giving it a ‘requires improvement to be good’ grade, the same as in 2016 when these specific services were last reviewed.
The latest Ofsted inspection found that services have been maintained despite the significant impact and disruption caused by COVID-19 and the resulting increase in demand for social care services. Importantly, after reviewing case files inspectors concluded that no local children were identified as at immediate risk.
Inspectors spoke directly with young people as well as social workers, managers, and senior leaders within the council over a two-week period starting in late October this year.
Ofsted noted that a “strong investment” had been made by the Council into early, preventative help for families, and praised the close working relationships, daily contact and shared strategies between the Council and its partners in policing, health services and the voluntary sector. There was a similar message from the Summer 2021 inspection on youth offending which found the service to be ‘Good’.
Specific areas for improvement were also identified; including a greater focus on standards and practice was needed to ensure all services were consistently good. Ofsted also regarded the self-assessment the council produced to be overly positive in light of current challenges. In response the Council’s Director of Children’s Services said: “We were pleased that many of the outcomes we are securing for children and families have improved over the last few years but understand we need to ensure that every case achieves the same high standards”.
Cllr Zoe Nolan, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said: “Ofsted recognised the ongoing efforts of our teams throughout the pandemic. They saw that we are ambitious on behalf of our children, and we will continue to champion and promote opportunities for our young people as they leave care. We understand there is more work to do, and we are already working on an action plan to address the areas for improvement. It has been an incredibly difficult time for all those working in social care and I’d like to thank the whole team for the progress that’s been made on behalf of our local children.”